All Souls Day in Australia

Filomena and her children
Filomena and her children shortly after their arrival in Australia in 1991.
Image: Filomena Freitas
Source: Filomena Freitas

The celebration of Loron Matebian varies according to ethnicity, family and community. It can be as simple as a few dishes spread on a cloth on the ground, or as elaborate as a banquet.

Loron Matebian is typfied by Filomena Freitas’ story and celebration of All Souls Day in Australia.

I was born in Lospalos but grew up in Vemasse, Timor Leste. In 1991 I sought refuge in Australia.

I have vivid memories of the celebration of Loron Matebian. Now in Australia I still celebrate All Souls Day with my family. We remember all the departed family members we left in Timor Leste. We pray for them at Mass if the day falls on a weekend.

The night before Loron Matebian, or early in the morning, I prepare the food: traditional East Timorese dishes such as rice, fried pork and meat balls, and some Australian-influenced salads, fruit salads and sweets.

In the afternoon of All Souls Day, while the family is sitting outside on the veranda in quiet meditation, I begin the Se Matebian ritual. I invite the departed souls into our house with a quiet prayer. I offer them the gifts on the offering table.

The women in my family help me fill plates with a small portion of all the dishes. We fill glasses with favourite drinks, then I offer the souls a chair to sit on at the dining table. While the souls are having dinner I join the family on the veranda. After a while the women return to offer dessert, coffee and spirits.

When we have given the souls time to enjoy the dinner, I perform the Hamulak, a call to the ancestors to ask for protection and guidance. I collect into a small bowl little portions of food to spread in the front and back yards of my house. In this way our surroundings are blessed by our ancestors.

We conclude the Se Matebian worship at the dining table, where we stand in silence to connect to our ancestors. We are filled with joy and our burdens are lifted. Each one of us chooses a chair that was used by a passed loved one and announces his or her name. Then we sit and eat, knowing that our ancestors’ souls are near us.

It is a happy celebration.

Image Gallery

Dining table set for departed souls Dishes offered to departed souls. Offering table for All Souls Day Photographs of departed family members Filomena in traditional East Timorese costume Woven baskets Silver case and container Gourd holder for powdered coral